Saturday, April 30, 2011

NBC Dateline airs special on southern tornadoes, and only then the wedding

Friday April 29, NBC Dateline aired a one hour documentary, “Tornadoes Rip Through the South”, with the video embed below sponsored by ExxonMobil in a natural gas pitch.

The segment interviewed survivors in Ringgold, GA (Mark Potter showing Trent Scott’s video), where half the business district was destroyed, and Tuscaloosa, AL, where the tornado was over a mile wide, as well as near Birmingham.

The show interviewed a 24 year old storm chaser from Minnesota.

The ferocity of the storms across the deep South was unprecedented, and sometimes unsurvivable.  In Virginia and Maryland, a few tornadoes arrived early, Wednesday evening, well before they were expected. The slowness of the cold front added to the severity of the storms; the tendency to remain stationary allowed training of storms and allowed windshear between southeast and westerly winds to build up, even in air that was not that hot and humid.

The storms dispelled ideas that tornadoes cannot hit cities, or survive going through mountains.  In the Washington DC area, the most vulnerable areas are the lower Potomac and southern Maryland, because it is flat; but also the area around and south of Frederick, Maryland, because the nearby Harpers Ferry mountain gap to the SW seems to channel thunderstorms with a Bernoulli effect.

Only after the tornado special did MSNBC Dateline air another special about the Royal Wedding.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royals: In just three hours, the deed is done! Let Prince William get his father's movie camera and get back to work

First of all, here’s a reference giving all the music for the royal wedding. It’s pretty much runs the gamut of well  known English composers, including Davies, Britten, Delius, Elgar, Stanford, and Parry, and of course the “Dean”, Ralph Vaughn Williams.

I didn’t get up at 4 AM, but saw the replays: the official moment where William “changes” was replayed on CNN shortly after 9 AM.   The service seems to have taken about three hours.  CNN seems to have the best replay coverage of the heart of the ceremony.

William was in scarlet (not quite fire engine red), but brother Harry was in black. 

My hair was even thinner than Prince William’s at his age today, with people telling me to get a toupee to be “desirable” enough.  Anyone for Rogaine or Minoxidil?  It’s pretty effective at that age. It’s too late for me.  In any case, once you wear blue jeans, it doesn’t matter.

Last night, ABC 20/20 had a preview showing all the royal homes.  The most interesting was the one in  Scotland.  I was near it in 1982 (I was in Edinburgh, Inverness, the far North, and later Glasgow).

The “Barracuda Brigade” posted Kate’s Procession on YouTube (the server is quite overloaded), but I think the music is by Parry.   It is quite a rousing piece.  I don’t think I have a CD of it and will have to look on Amazon.  The media often played excerpts from the recessional, the "Crown Imperial" by William Walton. Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March #5" was also played.  In commencement ceremonies in the US, it is usually March #1 that is played (as it was at mine in 1961). 

I’ll say more about the music later on my “drama – music blog”.  Had I been William, it would have been hard (for me) to resist picking Vaughn Williams “Toward the Unknown Region” – but he doesn’t want to admit that marriage is unknown.

All of this “social support” for the “institution” of heterosexual marriage (as per Maggie Gallagher and Jennifer Roback Morse), and what it ultimate “celebrates”!  Anderson Cooper of CNN had tweeted that he had packed light for the trip.

There was speculation on ABC whether either Elizabeth or later Charles would leave the throne early to give young William his “chance”.  I doubt he wants it.  I hope he puts on his blue jeans, buys some Panavision or ARRI cameras, and goes out and follows in Charles’s footsteps and makes some movies about the environment.   (Follow his brother Harry to the melting glaciers for openers; maybe even go up his favorite mountain in Kenya.) He could help Anderson Cooper finish “Planet in Peril”.  He could even help me with “Do Ask Do Tell”.   Film director isn’t a bad living for a married man with kids. (Actually, the media reports that Prince William will go back to work for a while as a Royal Navy rescue pilot while still in the military.)

By the way, the ending of the 1944 film "A Canterbury Tale" is a shot of the Abbey with stirring music. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Westminster Abbey photo. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WJLA covers surprise outbreak of tornadoes near Washington DC

I have to commend Doug Hill and Bob Ryan in WJLA TV, and ABC affiliate in Washington DC (7 is the normal channel; 210 is HD on Comcast) for the very detailed coverage of the multiple tornadoes in the pop-up train of violent thunderstorms that crossed the Potomac just south of Mount Vernon, barely missing Washington DC.  The coverage extended through ABC World News Tonight.

Surprisingly, a few miles from the storms, there was no visible sign of violent weather, so many people did not know about it.

Here’s their interactive map link.

There are more potentially violent storms moving up from Culpeper.  The main cold front will move East early Thurs. AM

CNN has a video of what happened this evening in Tuscaloosa. 

Attribution link for PD NASA diagram of tornado 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PBS: "Younger Next Year"

On Tuesday April 26, MPT aired Dr. Henry Lodge and “Younger Next Year: The New Science of Aging”, link here. There is a website for YNY, here

Decay is the reverse of growth.  “Surviving the winter is more important than growing in the spring”, which is why messenger molecules tell our muscle cells to decay gradually.

Dr. Lodge has a book (with Chris Crowley), published by Workman, Amazon link here

Exercise is a major way to inhibit aging and change the expression of chemical messengers in your neurons.  “Four days a week, you’re supposed to sweat.”

He mentions the new term “the frailty of the elderly” and the fact that 20% of older people with hip fractures die within a year. He makes this point in advocating strength training.

Diet and exercise are separate biologies.  It is better to be fit and fat than be unfit and thin. But quit eating junk.

There’s another biology: emotion (I used to call it the "emotional body"; some people call it "heart", or empathy). That means socialization. Mammalian brains, he says, are wired for social attachment, especially parents for their young. He neglects to say that birds are the same way. But people with attachments to family or family-like groups tend to thrive longer – an observation at odds with hyperindividualism and a politically correct focus on equality.

In previous generations, aging was accepted as normal and a part of life. The marital vow “in sickness and in health” accepted this notion.  Dr. Phil once said “tissue death” is normal with aging; and its acceptance in marital intimacy was seen as essential to society. There used to be a common conception that most men became overweight only after they got married.  And there’s even the carpool phrase, “A lot of guys go bald in the legs,” which novelist Peter Benchley had noted in "Jaws."

Still, he says, we can reverse aging and sometimes get biologically younger.

Perhaps the best age is still the late 20s.  Go get your “Men’s Health” and note the pictures of Garrett Hedlund, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ashton Kutcher.  And, what, Jesse Eisenberg took up hand gliding?  That’s exercise.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

On "The Event", Sofia's plot bemuses our government, while Sean prepares to save everything

First of all, “Chuck” tonight (NBC’s warmup) presented a luxury bedroom on a French train from Lyon that I don’t think comes with Eurailpass.  I’ve had a private sleeping car once in Europe, from Berlin to Krakow, and it wasn’t like this.  The car from the outside looked old; it’s much sleeker and much more silvery.  Once I took a local train from Bayeux to Caen when I lost the keys to a rent car and had to replace it, and it was more humdrum.

On “The Event” (episode called "Strain") the Vice President is about to take over under the 25th Amendment, while the National Security Director finds a relic of Sofia’s invisible poison left on his own sleeve.  In the meantime, Sean gets himself to Murmansk and finds the bioterror weapon inside the frozen shipboard lab.  This idea of a superflu (H5N1) isn’t new; Stephen King had explored it as far back as 1978 (rev. 1990) with “The Stand” which became a TV miniseries in 1995 (it still plays on the SyFy channel and is pretty effective).  As I remember, in fact, “The Stand” also anticipates “Inception” in its exploration of the potential of dreams.

I don’t know how Sean is going to keep the virus from spreading. He may well be immune to it if he is a “sentinel”.  Maybe his own blood can make the vaccine.  I wonder where the writers are going to take us next.

I still think that both ABC’s “Flash Forward” and NBC’s “Surface” need movies as sequels.  AMC’s “Rubicon” has some potential, too. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

CNN: "The Women Who Would Be Queen"

On Sunday, April 24, CNN aired the documentary “The Women Who Would Be Queen”, with Soledad O’Brien.  (Apparently it had aired Sat., too.)

The film was a synoptic comparison of the “courtship” of Diana by Prince Charles years ago with William’s bond with middle-class Catherine Middleton.  The couple broke off briefly in 2007, but William changed his mind, and proposed at a lodge in Kenya underneath Africa’s second highest mountain. In high definition, this part of the film looked impressive.   Lawyers have had mixed success in keeping paparazzi away from the couple.

The film only touched on the 1997 tragedy for Diana, which occurred the weekend that I personally moved to Minneapolis to take on a new job, so I remember it well.  Charles had felt some pressure to produce male heirs. 

William’s progressive male pattern baldness is very obvious in the film. As a tall, slender, agile man with thinning hair, he looks much better in blue jeans mixing with “ordinary people”, in the pubs or in ghettos, than in business dress. 

Kate’s home town 60 miles NW of London was shown, as was their small house in Wales.

“William Arthur Philip Louis” has some more military service, and I suspect he will take on his father’s interest in making feature environmental films.  Maybe an alliance with DiCaprio or Al Gore. 

CNN will start coverage of the royal wedding Friday April 29 at 4 AM EDT.

What would happen in Britain if the main male heir were openly gay? Of course it’s happened in the closet in the past, but inevitably it will happen in the future some day.  That’s a problem with being “born into a life.”  But we are all born into lives, aren’t we. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Elton John and same-sex couple surrogate fatherhood on ABC 20-20; Chris Cuomo admits to distracted driving

On Good Friday, April 22, Elton John, 64, and David Furnish, 48, described their experience with fatherhood as a same-sex couple. They mixed sperm and had a child with a surrogate mother, and bonded to the child at birth.

They had decided they wanted to become parents after a visit to the Ukraine and seeing children needing adoption.

Later in the broadcast, Chris Cuomo, an attorney himself, admitted to texting while driving and did a major report on distracted driving. Will laws ban not only cell phone use (Jupiter Jack,etc), but other devices (like GPS) or even eating while driving?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

History Channel: "Jesus: The Lost 40 Days"

On April 20, the History Channel aired the two-hour documentary “Jesus: The Lost 40 Days”, about the time Jesus reappeared starting with the Resurrection.

The documentary traces the efforts of a CGI artist to reconstruct (in realistic animation) the six times Jesus reappeared after his Crucifixion, by deciphering shadings in the herringbone patterns of the Shroud of Turin.
One of the most interesting is the fourth, with Doubting Thomas, who is portrayed as a (“psychologically feminine”) scientist, wanting to fit evidence of the Resurrection into his perfect intellectual world. Jesus holds his wrist, while he “feels”. 

There were questions as to whether Jesus “looked” the same after the Resurrection. It’s a bit like seeing someone at a distance (as at a bar or disco) and wondering about the possibility of mistaken identity.  On the other hand, Jesus looked very well, still like a fit young adult male. The idea of permanence, that one will not grow old and die, comes across as appealing. Can someone look perfect forever?

The documentary veers into other historical areas, like the evolution of the Nicene Creed, after Constantine had a dream leading to conversion to Christianity, and a desire of the emperor to eliminate the “diversity” of belief systems that had developed in Christianity.  A political structure was set up for the Church that continues until this day. The Church developed a somewhat authoritarian view of doctrine and the right to speak about it. Truth was to be revealed and delivered to people through the proper channels, rather than discovered and publicized individually.

The most miraculous of the six appearances would, of course, be the Ascension, which takes on a sci-fi aspect, unless it is embedded in faith.

The Examiner has a review by Hunt Henion, here

Visitors may also enjoy the Wordpress "Shroud of Turin" blog's account of the film here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Beyond Theology: What Would Jesus Do?" re-airs on some PBS; story of a Kansas pastor

Tuesday, April 19, WHUT-TV, the Howard University PBS Station in Washington, re-aired the one hour program “Beyond Theology:  What Would Jesus Do?”, about the turn-of-the-century minister Charles Sheldon with his WWJD movement.

Sheldon worked as an editor for a Topeka, KS paper for one week in the early 20th Century and actually advanced the idea of citizen journalism.  There is discussion of his book “In His Steps” and of early audio-visual technology called “The Magic Lantern.”

Some of Sheldon’s writing were seen as “feel good” or simplistic in the views of some.

Nevertheless, the program emphasized the nuance of moral choices: the world of Jesus was not one of zero-tolerance or inflexibility, and knowledge itself, without involvement, was not always a good thing.

Here was a 2007 review from Kansas.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The Event": Now Sean is a "Sentinel". That is sort of "one of them", but not like the First Lady

Oh, well, last night, “The Event” (Episode 17, "Cut off the Head") took us further in revealing “who people are”.  The First Lady is “one of them”, but she gets away with telling President Martinez that she came from Cuba quasi-illegally.

Sean (Jason Ritter), after saving a damsel in distress from a burning mansion (without a scratch or burn) confronts Hal Holbrook’s character, who announces to Sean that he (Sean) is another “Sentinel”, descended from people 10000 years ago, people with special powers to keep the aliens at bay.  Then Holbrook’s character shoots himself, and passes the parchment (maybe it’s the Bayeux Tapestry).

Sean is supposed to continue the treasure hunt and find this “weapon” near Murmansk.  What could this “weapon” do?  In any case, Sofia needs “lebensraum” for her people? Sound familiar?  What a play on the Holocaust!

I don’t believe for one moment the silliness where Sofia talks the Vice President into “the plot”, or how he will carry it out.

The premise of this show (Methusalah notwithstanding) is getting weaker.  I miss "The 4400" and Jordan Collier. 

Note, there was a 1974 novel "The Sentinel" by Jeffrey Konvitz, which became a horror film (I saw it decades ago), then a political thriller film of the same name in 2006; it was also the name of a short story by Arthur C. Clarke that became "2001: A Space Odyssey".

In this Sundance video, Ritter could lose the buzzcutt. He looks better on "The Event".

Sunday, April 17, 2011

CNN: "Waco: Faith, Fear & Fire"

CNN aired a one-hour documentary “Waco: Faith, Fear & Fire”, summarizing the events at Waco in 1993, early in the Clinton years.  The basic link is here

CNN says that 18 years later, some Davidians still believe that Koresh was God.

I visited Texas in late March 1993, met up with an old friend, and drove the rental car down to Waco and saw the compound from a distant bridge.

I remember driving back to work on April 19, 1993, and hearing Pat Buchanan narrate the sudden burning of the compound as the feds attack.

The documentary shows Janet Reno justifying her actions, based on the best information available at the time. It also discusses the "consequences" of the incident, such as how it "motivated" Timothy McVeigh (#1) at Oklahoma City exactly two years later in 1995. 

The most important indie theatrical documentary on Waco is "Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997, New Yorker, dir. William Gazecki, 165 min, R).

Picture: Field near Waco site, my visit, 2005.

Update: March 2, 2013

The show re-aired tonight, shortly after the 20th anniversary of the day that the seige began.

The ATF apparently had information that Koresh was making assault weapons from ordinary weapons at the compound.  I had not been aware that the Branch Davidians had been offshoots of Seventh Day Adventists.

The FBI talked about a study showing that cult members have "low self-esteem" and are "unable to make decisions for themselves."

The FBI and ATF also say that the fire was started by Koresh himself with accelerants.  And the government claims that many of the deaths occurred when Koresh shot them.  Koresh had children whom he intended to be his own servants, as with many cult leaders. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore interviewed by CNN's Piers Morgan, on their foundation

Thursday night, April 14, Ashton Kutcher and spouse Demi Moore appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan show and pitched the “Demi and Ashton Foundation”, here. One slogan is “Real men don’t buy girls.”    I recall the film “Hustle & Flow” and recall that “it’s hard out here…”, but it’s the fact that there are men who will pay for it that helps encourage the “Trade” (which was the subject of a strong film by Michael Kruezpainter and Roadside Attractions in 2007).

Webroot gave me a warning on the Facebook page for the “DNA Foundation” (maybe a false positive), but not the site itself, or Ashton’s own page.

Ashton became emotional at one point with one incident that he reported.

At 33, he still looks about 20 on television. But Piers said that Ashton grows older as Demi looks younger; they converge. But I see no aging at all in Ashton. Maybe he is an angel. 

Ashton said that the social values debate today needs to be about "being married", not "getting married" (the "Demographic winter" problem).

He also said that the number of "followers" or "friends" is not an index of success on Twitter or Facebook; content is. Social media cuts both ways. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Archival news footage "The Gay 80s" makes a prelude to "We Were Here"; recalling "And the Band Played On"; "Angels in America"

The Gay 80’s” Archival Footage from Eyewitness News, for SPKR, with William Rader, MD, with a series of reports for newscasts that were aired in San Francisco in the early 1980s, just before AIDS became known as an issue.

The video (from Honey Sound Systems) focuses on the social and disco scene in San Francisco and Los Angeles around that time, but the tone seems dated now.

It talks about Harry Hay and John Burnside, in their 60s at the time of filming and still together, and the origins of the gay movement in Silverlake in the 1950s.
I found this video looking up the background of the film “We Were Here:  Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco", directed by David Weissman and Bill Weber.  I missed this film at FilmFestDC but hope to see it in Baltimore in May; the link is here.  (Note: I saw this in Baltimore May 7 and have a review on my movies blog May 8, 2008).

And the Band Played On”, the (St. Martins Press) book by Randy Shilts (1987) became a lengthy (2-1/2 hrs) HBO film in 1993, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, with Matthew Moldine and Alan Alda.  The most interesting and perhaps disturbing part of the film is the early part, when people were starting to notice the signs of a focal epidemic.

HBO also produced the 300-minute, six part series “Angels in America”, directed by Mike Nichols, based on the play by Tony Kushner, in 2003, in two main parts: “The Millennium Approaches” and “Perestroika”, with Al Pacino as Roy Cohn, with Patrick Wilson and Ben Shenkman.   James Cromwell played the physician who had to tell Roy that he had the disease. 

One of the most important theater films was Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia" (1993, TriStar) with Tom Hanks as the KS victim. I remember a Saturday afternoon sellout for that film on a bitter January day in 1994 at Pentagon City. I also recall the courtroom scene where Hanks's character, having been fired from a law firm, talks about "gay movies" from the witness stand. 

CNN's video of "The King's Speech" (sic) at GWU yesterday

CNN has a video of the president’s speech Wednesday afternoon at my own “alma mater”, George Washington University, 43 minutes. It was not the moral equivalent of "the King's Speech". 

I was near Baltimore in a sports bar at the time, and the business had trouble loading it.

The president says, the rich must do their fair share to close the deficit. The GOP says, the rich create jobs.  What the social conservatives try to claim is that “family values” will let some people stay rich without perverse incentives.  The record of history doesn’t support that. But there’s no question that defense and “entitlements” are the biggest sources of spending, and “entitlements” encompass more than we want to admit.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PBS Frontline: "Behind Taliban Lines" and "Pakistan: The Lost Generation"

PBS Frontline has a newer documentary about the Taliban, “Behind Taliban Lines”, available from Netflix, aired first February 23, 2010. The 40 minute film follows journalist Najibullah Quraishi, up in the northern part of the country. He filmed with an Al Qaeda-related cell trying to interrupt a coalition supply route with attacks, which fail.

The link for the program is here.  

Here is the PBS embed of the first chapter, “The Central Group”.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

The program is supplemented by a 20-minute report, “PBS World Special Report: Pakistan: The Lost Generation”,  by David Montero, about the shambled condition of Pakistan’s “public” schools. Parents send their kids to madrassahs instead, partly because of the horrible condition of the schools, where teachers don’t show up and buildings are left abandoned.  The reporter challenged Pakistani authorities on the anti-western content of the textbooks, where were begrudgingly making reforms.

An earlier PBS Frontline film about the Taliban is reviewed here Jan. 29, 2008.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

CNN Presents: a new look at the 1981 attempt on Reagan by Hinckley; we were closer to World War with the Soviets than we thought

On Saturday, April 9, “CNN Presents” aired a documentary (one hour) “Stalker: The Reagan Shooting”. The preliminary transcript is (website url) here

Hinckley had cased Reagan out before the inauguration in January 1981, and had he succeeded, the Iran hostages might not have been released.

Furthermore, in the hours after the March 30 1981 incident (on Connecticut Ave., north of Dupont Circle, near the Hilton), Andrew Haig improperly told the press that he was in charge, and had custody of the “football” of nuclear strike codes. The Soviets increased their submarine presence off the US East Coast after the incident, and another “Cuban Missile Crisis” could have happened.

Even though the incident happened 30 years ago, it shows how one "unbalanced" person might just put civilization in jeopardy. That was a kind of paranoia I grew up with in the 50s and 60s. 

Reagan was hit by one bullet, which ricocheted off parts of the limousine before entering his chest just under the armpit.  It hit an artery, which is why he almost bled out after seeming OK at first; he did recover from surgery very quickly.

I was living in Dallas at the time.

Hinckley is still confined to a mental hospital, but is allowed visits to his parents near Williamsburg. There is a chance he could be released eventually, and this scares some authorities.

The documentary covered his obsession with Jodie Foster, starting with her appearance in the movie “Taxi Driver” in 1976.

Vince Palamara’s YouTube video of the event:

Saturday, April 09, 2011

NBC Today previews "Soul Surfer" but stays light on faith; ABC 20/20 slams a fundamentalist sect

Thank goodness, the media is off talking about the “Shutdown” for a few days, at least.

On Saturday morning, NBC Today gave an extended preview of the Sony film “Soul Surfer” (Sony Tri-Star Pictures), the story of Hawaii surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm at the shoulder to a sudden and quick attack by a tiger shark at age 13. She lost half her blood, but recovered quickly and was back in the water in a month.

She does her own surfing in the film (dir. Sean McNamara), but is played by actress AnnaSophia Robb, who appeared, as well as (younger) Irie Driscoll, along with Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt.  On the show, Hamilton talked only briefly about her Christian faith and external purpose, which is billed as a big issue in the film.

I reviewed the related film "Walking on Water" on my movies blog April 3, 2010. 

Fundamentalist Christianity was not made to look good by an ABC 20/20 segment Friday night, about a young woman, Tina Anderson, who was a victim of a criminal assault within the structure of a fundamentalist “Baptist” church (the “IFB”) in New Hampshire, and urged to “forgive” the attacker. The practice of spanking babies to break their “will’ was covered in the show, as was the ultra-conservative patriarchal social structure of the church.

On Sunday, April 10, the Today show did another report of surfing of "maverick waves" off the California coast. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fred Friendly's Seminar "Fueling Our Future" (2009) on Howard University Television

WHUT (Howard University Television) rebroadcast Wednesday, a 2009 seminar by Fred Friendly (playing the role of President Obama), “Fueling Our Future”, funded by the Blue Planet Foundation, link, which purports to end the use of fossil fuels on Earth, starting in Hawaii.

Friendly  proposed a situation where gasoline has suddenly risen to $12 a gallon. (Today, as I was on the road, it was $3.85 where I was).

Generally, the panel thought that this was the moral equivalent of war.  But Jimmy Carter had said that back in the 70s.

The idea that employers should embrace telecommuting was discussed, and the day might come when driving alone without passengers would no longer be acceptable (and I was on a day trip today to a nuclear power plant).

Here’s Friendly’s own website for the show

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

NBC's "The Event": a "liberal" president can do bad things if pressed

Episode 16 of “The Event”, “You Bury Other Things Too”, does have a good political lesson about civil liberties. President Martinez decides to test the DNA of every American and makes up a phony tuberculosis epidemic with the CDC as a cover. It’s scary: bringing back the myths of an old disease, bringing back the scare of HIV testing back in the 1980s (the gay community’s “don’t take the test” comes to mind).  The president is going to root out and quarantine all those who “fail” the test.  Sound familiar? 

Well, then, there is this problem that the First Lady may be one of “them”.

Sofia no longer views Earth’s civilization as “benevolent” and is ready to kill 2 billion people (or start another Holocaust)  to make room for the Visitors. Know where tribalism and eugenics come from?

Sean is on his adventures in France, while Dempsey (Hal Holbrook) uncovers the “scrolls” about the “guardians” who protected Earth from the visitors. Dempsey notes that Sean escapes every challenge and is probably one of “them”.  

I didn’t care for the torture scene at the end. I think the writers should keep Sean on higher moral grounds than that (let him have “pie charts”).  It’s pretty obvious where this is headed: the Visitors will be stopped by one of their own who didn’t know what he was. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

AMC's new series "The Killing" mixes other genres: will viewers want to play "whodoneit" with the AMC website?

The AMC Cable network has started another potentially engrossing miniseries, this one in 13 parts, “The Killing”.  Each episode represents about one day in the investigation.  The show seems a bit like a curious mixture of “Law & Order” and “Silence of the Lambs”, but may be less challenging that other recent series that are more based on some paranormal premise.

The beginning is interesting if artificial. High school student Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay) is being chased through dark woods (there’s the Jonathan Demme effect), but it’s juxtaposed with detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) performing her morning jog before moving from the Seattle area to California to get married.  
Scene shifts (in time and place) may heighten viewer interest (in compared to what’s accomplished by straight-line storytelling), but they need a rational basis.  But here Sarah will soon kept home to help solve Rosie’s case. And the parents will have to deal with the growing acceptance of what at first is a disappearance, as more clues mount up.

The “horror chamber” shown at the end of the second hour takes us into the “Lambs” territory.

The series is based on the Danish TV series “Forbrydelsen” (one can imagine “Smilla’s Sense of Snow”), and was developed by Veena Sud.

The official site for the program is here. The site will contain games and clues for the viewer, who has to ponder which characters could be not what they seem (have “clay feet”), almost as in a game of Clue or even Mr. Ree (a more complicated board game from the 50s that people have forgotten).

Visually, the show is OK: I could not find AMC HD on my Comcast lineup so I had to watch it in conventional presentation.

For my time, the series is not as compelling as the 2010 series on AMC, "Rubicon", reviewed here Aug. 1, 2010. 

Saturday, April 02, 2011

CNN: "Uprisings: Region in Revolt"

On March 27 (and again April 2), CNN aired a news special with Don Lemon, “Uprisings: Region in Revolt”, with transcript here

The show emphasized less-covered uprisings in the more authoritarian countries like Syria and Yemen, where organized protests had probably been viewed as unthinkable.  Of course, events in Libya are moving so quickly that a news documentary like this quickly becomes dated when rerun.

The show did not cover very much the importance of social media.  Without Twitter and Facebook, it’s unlikely that a “viral” outbreak of organized real-world demonstrations and confrontations (familiar in tone to people who came of age in the 60s and 70s as I did) could have taken off.  The founders of high tech companies (especially social networks, as well as Google) probably deserve much more credit for this than any conventional elected politicians.  It’s an interesting observation in a time when running for office and public service are still seen as virtues (from celebrities and former CEO’s).

Lemon also mentioned the documentary about the mosque in Tennessee (covered here March 27).

The documentary included a clip of Anderson Cooper’s interview with four New York Times journalists (including Stephen Farrell) held in Libya by Gadhafi forces. “You’re the translator, you’re the spy.” The journalists really thought they would die; they begged not to go on their stomachs. A female reported being touched in a manner she had never encountered in eleven years of reporting the Muslim world.   Professional journalists overseas really do take terrible risks, unlike most bloggers. 

It seems as though Saudi Arabia has remained an iron grip against any possible protests;  it’s like another planet.